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What Makes Cities Livable? 

from Abroad 


Edited by George G. Wynne 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



The Competitions 


Edited by 
George G. Wynne 


Transaction Books 
New Brunswick (U.S.A.) and London (U.K.) 


Like a design competition itself this booklet is the work of many people. It would not have 
seen print without their encouragement, professional knowledge and production assistance. 
Our thanks go to the National Endowment for the Arts and in particular to Michael Pittas, 
the Director of the Endowment's Design Arts Program, for his support and enthusiasm. 
The insights and contributions of professionals in design and the media who live in many 
countries whose help made this publication possible need to be acknowledged. In the 
United States, it is first and foremost Paul Spreiregen, in the United Kingdom, Michael 
Imeson, in France, Francine Loiseau van Baerle, in Germany, Cynthia Whitehead, in 
Sweden, Joren Berg, in Australia, Bruce Juddery, in Japan, Jared Lubarsky. The technical 
expertise of the Institute for Environmental Action in New York, Pamela Loos of our 
Council, and Marilyn Ludwig, who helped significantly along the way, need to be credited. 

'The Design Arts Program of the National Endowment wants to encourage greater local 
government use of competitions in building or urban development projects. A design com- 
petition manual has been published, and NEA is prepared to offer professional advice and 
assistance. Write for the manual to the Design Arts Program, National Endowment for the 
Arts, Washington, D.C. 20506. 


The Past Is Prologue 

What do these places have in common: the U.S. Capitol, Westminster, the 
Paris Opera, the Spanish Steps in Rome, Toronto's City Hall, Helsinki's 
railway station, and Australia's capital city of Canberra? 

They, and dozens more of the world's greatest public buildings and 
spaces, were the result of design competitions. 

Legislation is now pending in Congress that would mandate competi- 
tions for half of all federal buildings price-tagged at more than $5 million, 
as a step toward improving the quality of public architecture in this coun- 
try. But competitions that promote design excellence, and access on equal 
terms for unrecognized talent, need not be confined to giant projects. 
Housing for the elderly, playgrounds, community parks, cultural facihties 
and derelict streetscapes can all be improved through the competition 
route, with pubHc involvement from the very start as a major side benefit.' 

In Western Europe, where design competitions have traditionally been 
more popular than they have been in the U.S., the competitions have been 
experiencing their own kind of renaissance in recent years. Public policy 
statements are promoting their use by local governments in search of in- 
novation and economy in the face of shrinking resources. Germany, 
France, the Scandinavian countries and the United Kingdom are giving 
greater weight to design competitions these days than they have for a long 
time, and new guideHnes to insure widespread use of the technique have 
been published, or are being prepared. 

A Method of Selecting Design Professionals 

Selection of a design professional — architect, urban planner, landscape ar- 
chitect, or industrial product designer — is a difficult challenge for any 
client, public or private. Under conventional (that is, non-competition) 
methods, the client must rely on the relative reputations of the profes- 
sionals under consideration. Whether those reputations have been 
established by word-of-mouth or by more formal pubHcity, such as 
pubHcations, awards, etc., "selection by reputation" is Hkely to preclude 
the selection of a young, little-known designer who may nevertheless 
possess enormous talent and the vision to produce a superior design. 

Public-sector clients may have even greater difficulty with the selection 
process, since politics can so easily influence that process. 


The design competition provides a method of selecting a professional, 
not merely on the basis of his or her past performance on other projects, 
but on the basis of a specific design response to the challenge of the pro- 
ject at hand. 

One type of competition is held for the purpose of selecting a designer 
for a project, with the full intention that the project shall be built, and 
generally with the implication that the competition-winner will be en- 
trusted with its design. Another type, the * 'ideas" competition, may be 
held without any firm stipulation that the project will go ahead, or that the 
winner will be retained — but some type of compensation, usually monetary, 
is offered as a prize. 

Competitions may be ''open" — that is, any quahfied designer may 
enter — or "invited," with invitations going to specific firms or individuals 
known to the client. (Even so-called "open" competitions are often 
restricted to registered professionals, or to members of a national profes- 
sional society, or to students, or to residents of a particular country, 
region or local area.) Competitions for particularly large or important 
pi:ojects are often held in stages, with an open first stage in which com- 
petitors submit conceptual designs, from which a manageable number are 
selected to produce more complete entries, often with material specifica- 
tions, models and cost estimates. Those who survive the first stage are 
generally offered some compensation for the time and effort required to 
participate in the second stage, since only one design can be the winner. 

Competitors are furnished a "program" (known in some countries as a 
"brief") containing as much information as possible about the proposed 
project: its purpose; its general size and scope; its site, if known, along 
with any other special requirements or restrictions — for example, a 
stipulation that the project must be harmonious with existing buildings 
that will surround it. 

Developing the program and managing other details of administering 
the competition are generally the responsibility of a "professional 
advisor" — a person with demonstrated expertise in the professional 
discipline involved, such as architecture or urban planning, as well as 
familiarity with the proposed project and the time and willingness to take 
on the job of seeing the competition through to its conclusion. The profes- 
sional advisor is usually compensated for his time and efforts. 

Actual selection of a competition-winner is made by "judges" (or 
"jurors" or "assessors," as they are sometimes called). The professional 
societies, and sometimes public agencies, that set up competition regula- 
tions often require that a majority of competition judges be design profes- 
sionals from the appropriate disciplines — although there seems to be a 
"populist" movement developing which has led to the inclusion of more 
client- or public-representatives. 

With tho^e few definitions and explanations, the reader may find it 
easier to comprehend the reports from abroad that make up the remainder 
of this book. 

A Summary of Design Competitions Abroad 

As stated earlier, the competition as a method of selecting designers seems 
to be making a comeback in most countries. While the inexperienced client 

may assume that competitions add to the expense of a project because of 
the administrative expense and the need to compensate runners-up, ex- 
perience in many countries has been that total project cost is often less 
because of some innovative design or construction technology. (Obviously 
this is not always the case, as detractors of the Sydney Opera House com- 
petition in Australia are quick to point out.) 

Virtually all architectural and urban design competitions in the Federal 
Repubhc of Germany are governed by the 1977 '* Basic Principles and 
Guidelines for Competitions" (GRW 77) developed by the Architects 
Union, the Housing and Urban Development Ministry and the principal 
local government associations. 

More than 500 competitions were conducted by cities, counties and 
states in Germany last year, in addition to about a dozen sponsored by the 
federal government. The overwhelming majority of German architects 
and designers support the competition idea because it helps make public 
projects available to more contenders and provides opportunities for 
relative unknowns to win commissions through their skills, rather than 
their connections. 

Until very recently, just over 7 percent of France's 13,000 registered ar- 
chitects were responsible for more than 90 percent of all design commis- 
sions. The first major step toward more equitable distribution of work 
came in in 1973, with regulations that directed the public sector to use the 
competitions method *'where possible." (In 1980, the ''where possible" 
escape clause was dropped, but small projects with a construction cost of 
less than about $55,000 were exempt from the competition requirement.) 

In 1972, the French instituted a national ideas competition known as 
PAN, an acronym for the French translation of ''New Architectural Pro- 
gram," as a protest against the uninspired buildings that have dotted 
French cityscapes in recent years. The annual competitions are open to ar- 
chitects and to senior-year students of architecture, with each year's com- 
petition devoted to a different theme — in 1980, "the urban fringe." Win- 
ners and recipients of honorable mentions receive monetary prizes, and 
PAN sponsors try to "sell" the winning designs and their architects to 
local and regional authorities and developers — with good results: about 
half of the 70-odd PAN winners have been able to realize their designs on 
an actual site. 
The Netherlands 

The ratio of architects to the Dutch population, about 1:5,000, is lower 
than in other countries and the work seems to be better apportioned. This 
may account for the fact that the use of competitions is less widespread 
than in other places. Nevertheless, a public body, the Building Research 
Foundation, is looking into ways of promoting competitions. Seven na- 
tional competitions were approved in 1977, more than twice as many as in 
recent years, and 10 were approved in the first half of 1980. 

According to Joren Berg, secretary of the competitions committee of 
Sweden's professional architecture society, Swedish architects have never 
questioned the value of competitions in achieving high-quahty design. 


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Public clients are the principal sponsors of competitions, and their in- 
terest has varied through the years, due both to economic trends and the 
increasingly active role played in the design process by politicians and the 
public, rather than ''experts/' Recognizing this trend in 1973, the associa- 
tion changed its rules regarding the makeup of juries: now only two jurors 
must be architects, which means that others will have the final say on 
design approval. As a result of this and other steps, including clarification 
of competition rules and a campaign by architects among public officials, 
the number of competitions in Sweden has grown — with 41 such competi- 
tions approved and conducted under the association's rules between 1977 
and 1979. 
United Kingdom 

From its Golden Age during the Victorian era — a period in which competi- 
tions produced some of Britain's most noted and noteworthy architec- 
ture — the competition went into a slump which persisted until very recent- 
ly, when spokesmen for the nation's Conservative Government went 
public with its support for the competition idea. As a start, the national 
Public Property Services Agency (analogous to this country's General Ser- 
vices Administration) has announced competitions for work totaling 
about $10 million, including new accommodations for the Navy Gunnery 
College in Devonport, a new Hbrary for the Royal Military College of 
Science at Shrivenham, and administrative offices at a Norfolk prison. 

Meanwhile, the Royal Institute of British Architects and other profes- 
sional societies are taking a hard look at the possible reasons why competi- 
tions seem to have fallen into disfavor for such a long time. A spokesman 
for the RIBA concedes that local authorities have sometimes been 
dissatisfied with the fact that jurors were mostly architects who lack the 
hard-headed financial sense required when public monies are involved. He 
promises: We take note of these points, and will do something about 

Competitions as a method of selecting design professionals are enjoying a 
resurgence, after the near-debacle that resulted from the much-publicized 
delays and cost overruns on the Sydney Opera House designed by Danish 
competition winner Joern Utzon. (Spectacular as it is, Utzon's design ran 
ahead of the then-state of construction technology — a lesson for all future 
competitors and juries in Australia and elsewhere.) 

Proponents of the competition idea pin their hopes on the successful 
design for the Parliament House in Canberra, scheduled for completion in 
1988, and on a number of other competitions for buildings in the capital. 
Many hope that competitions Hmited so far to Australians will be opened 
up to citizens of other countries — noting that the winner of the Parliament 
House competition is Richard G. Thorp who, although Australian born, is 
a partner in the New York/Philadephia firm of Mitchell/Giurgola/Thorp. 

The experiences of these and other countries are detailed in the pages that 
follow. I hope that you will enjoy learning about them, and that they will 
lead you to explore further the advantages of design competitions in obtain- 
ing the best available talent for appropriate projects, public and private. 

George G. Wynne 

The Centre National d' Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, Paris, is a result of the 
competition held in 1970. Architects Piano & Rogers. ^ 

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In this new era of scarce physical and financial resources, local governments 
in the Federal Republic of Germany are increasingly seeking solutions to 
land use and urban development problems by reviving the traditional prac- 
tice of architectural design competitions. More than 500 such competi- 
tions were conducted by cities, counties and states in Germany in 1979, 
about 30 percent more than in 1978. Most of the new competitions were 
held by small and middle-sized towns, seeking to tap the imagination and 
skills of a variety of architects before deciding on the final form of a 
public building, park or development. 

The competitions range from the design of individual buildings such as 
churches, neighborhood centers, retirement homes, or city parks, to broader 
urban development projects such as urban renewal, historic preservation 
districts, and the rehabilitation of central city neighborhoods.' 

German architects are strong supporters of design competitions because 
they make public projects available to a greater pool of applicants and 
provide opportunities for young or relatively unknown architects to win 
pubHc contracts and recognition through good, innovative design. 

Virtually all architectural competitions in Germany are governed by the 
1977 Basic Principles and Guidelines for Competitions Concerning 
Regional Planning, Urban Development and Building, or "GRW 77," 
which were prepared jointly by the Federation of Architectural Societies, 
the Federal Ministry of Regional Planning, Urban Development and 
Building, and by most of the states as well. The state architectural societies 
(Architektenkammer), in which membership is required for practicing ar- 
chitects similar to some bar associations in the United States, claim the 
authority to review competitions and penalize a member who participates 
in a competition that is not in accordance with GRW 77. 

The GRW 77 is merely an update of previous guidelines agreed upon in 
1952 by the Federation of German Architects and the German Council of 
Cities (Bund deutscher Architekten and Deutscher Stadtetag). The only 
major innovation in the new guidelines is that all concerned parties were 
brought into the drafting process, and agreed on the final version. 

The principles of architectural competitors and the basic responsibilities 
of sponsors and competitors are set out in the preface to GRW 77: 

Competitions in the areas of regional planning, urban development and 

Winning Scheme: Museum of Decorative Arts Competition 

Frankfurt Am Main, W. Germany, Richard Meier & Partners 7 

building serve to bring about good solutions, and to make partners of ap- 
propriate architects, landscape architects, interior designers, city and 
regional planners, and engineers in the designated task. 

Competitions should promote quality of planning, building, and design 
of the environment through the comparison of technical competence. 

The sponsor receives technically qualified support from an independent 
jury in selecting the solution to the designated task. 

The large material and intellectual expenditures of the participants re- 
quire not only careful preparation and conduct of the competition, but 
also — considering the number of proposals — appropriate compensation 
by the sponsor. 

...a substantial portion of the sponsor's compensation is found in its 
statement of intent to give further contracts to the authors of prizewinning 

Clearly, architectural competitions in Germany are based on a carefully 
thought-out scheme of partnership and mutual responsibihty, in which the 
architect's investment in the design is balanced by a relatively firm com- 
mitment to involve the prizewinners in the sponsor's implementation of 
the chosen design. 

Competitions and Their Sponsors 

Any private individual, organization, or public authority may sponsor an 
architectural competition, but the vast majority are held by cities and 
towns. Other major sponsors are the states, and the Catholic and Protes- 
tant churches. In 1978, about 12 competitions were conducted by the 
federal government; federal projects have included the Regierungsviertel, 
the governmental quarter between Bonn and Bad Godesberg where the of- 
ficers of the federal Parliament and federal Chancellor are located, and 
the European Patent Office in Munich. 

In theory, according to GRW 77, any person or professional organiza- 
tion involved in architecture or planning may compete, but in practice the 
state architectural societies have seen to it that virtually all competitions 
are restricted to practicing architects. Competitions may also be restricted 
to architects with offices in a specified region, state or within national 
boundaries. Furthermore, many competitions exclude architects not in 
private practice; that is, those working for housing corporations, planning 
firms or associations, or government. 

Nothing would prevent an architect from employing planners, sociologists, 
artists, or engineers in the drafting of a design, but only the architect 
would be permitted as a competitor. 

The decision to permit organizations, or "legal persons," to compete 
was strongly opposed by the architectural societies, and has had only slight 
impact. North Rhine-Westphalia, with the encouragement of the state ar- 
chitectural society, will soon adopt a regulation excluding organizations 
from competitions. The debate focuses on such concepts as "creative, in- 
tellectual, individually generated effort," or the consideration that other- 
wise planning or housing corporations with substantially more financial 
resources than the average architect might feel free to compete. In fact, 
employees of these firms generally may compete in their own names, so 
the restriction might be easily got around if it were felt desirable. 


Types of Competition 

The GRW established three types of competitions: 
Basic and programmatic competitions — which are limited to the explica- 
tion of a project, the acquisition of basic planning information, or the 
generation of basic solutions; 

Conceptual competitions — which strive for a variety of ideas for the solu- 
tions of a project; 

Implementation competitions — which should create the planning structure 
within a firmly defined program and be based on concrete requirements for 
the realization of the project. 

In practice, almost three- fourths of the competitions concern individual 
buildings, including specific urban development projects such as schools, 
apartment buildings, or block developments. A few involve the design of 
parks or recreation areas, and a very few concern rehabilitation or moder- 
nization of existing buildings. This last subject, however, can be expected 
to become more common, as Germany's urban neighborhood revitalization 
programs get underway. 

Thus, programmatic competitions have been virtually nonexistent, this 
work being carried out by the planning staffs of the government, and con- 
ceptual competitions have been quite rare. The practice is to call on the ex- 
pertise of private-sector architects after a level of government already has 
a fairly firm idea of what it wants to build or landscape. 

Architectural competitions may be used to implement, supplement, or 
supplant the public participation element of urban development decision- 
making, depending upon the stage in the planning process at which they 
are held. 

In the normal course of urban development planning in Germany, the 
municipality is responsible for enacting a municipal development plan for 
roughly a 20-year period, a general zoning ordinance establishing broad 
categories of land use by means of a map, and for regulation of all con- 
struction within its boundaries, which usually includes considerable rural 
land. Most demolition and construction requires either a permit from the 
municipality, or prior adoption of a "site plan" — a municipal ordinance 
describing the type and extent of permissible construction and building use 
on an individual plot of land. The enactment of site plans is governed by 
the Federal Building Law of 1960, which was amended in 1976 to incor- 
porate certain standards of pubUc information and participation in the 
preparation and enactment of site plans. The architectural competition 
usually is conducted as part of the drafting of a site plan, thereby giving 
rise to potential conflicts with the public if the municipality commits itself 
to the winning design before the public has an opportunity to comment on 
the proposed project. 

Competition Procedures 

Architectural competitions, according to the GRW 77, may be pubhc or 
anonymous, have one or two steps of decision-making, be international or 
restricted to architects with offices in a designated geographical area; be 
open or by invitation only, and be open to all persons involved in architec- 
ture or urban planning, or restricted to self-employed architects. The 
preponderance of the competitions in Germany, however, follow a single 














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pattern. They are concerned with the design of an actual structure or 
structures — that is, the 'implementation" of a plan, anonymous, and 
hmited to self-employed architects with offices in a region or state. They 
also have only one stage of decision-making, award three to five prizes 
(which are roughly the equivalent to the competitor's personal time invest- 
ment in the design), and include the commitment to employ the author or 
authors of the winning design further on the project, as well as designs 
which are purchased from other competitors. 

The first step in an architectural competition is the preparation of a 
statement of goals, conditions, and requirements of the project and the 
competition. This is usually carried out by the planning staff of the spon- 
sor, in most cases by the municipal planning office. Here, too, GRW 77 
provides a detailed list of what documents and information must be made 
available to competitors. It includes the description of the standards, goals 
and criteria by which the designs will be judged. Supporting information 
must be provided about the project's goals, functions and program, the 
possibility of changes in use or expansion, intended stages of construction 
and use, special use requirement and arrangement of rooms, environmen- 
tal and social impact, and efficiency. 

When reviewing 40 years of architectural competitions for the 100th an- 
niversary issue of the magazine architektur wettbewerbe. Professor Jurgen 
Joedicke determined that the criteria appHed in the competitions generally 
reflected the accepted architectural values of the times. Today, the 
rehabihtation and modernization of cities is gaining precedence over 
demolition and reconstruction in urban development policies. And, as the 
environmental and social impact of urban designs become more easily 
identifiable, the need for interdisciplinary planning is recognized. As yet, 
architectural competitions are still suffering from a certain lack of ex- 
perience in these types of projects. No standard criteria taking these fac- 
tors into account, in a manner comparable to safety or economy stan- 
dards, have been agreed upon. 

Preparation of the competition usually requires several months. Ideally, 
this is the stage during which the pubHc should be informed of the 
municipality's intentions and invited to share in the deliberations, accord- 
ing to the requirements of the Federal Building Law. In practice, the 
preparation stage is considered an internal affair of government and re- 
mains fairly secret. During this stage the sponsor must determine, in con- 
siderable detail, just what it intends the project to be, and how much it 
should cost. Lack of precision in the project description given to the com- 
petitors may result in designs that fail to achieve the sponsor's expecta- 
tions, or in subsequent conflicts with the prizewinners about the im- 
plementation of the design. 

When preparations for the competition are completed, the conditions of 
the competition are often submitted to the state architectural society for 
review. In North Rhine-Westphalia, this review is undertaken by the direc- 
tor of the architectural society and lasts about a day. 

Then the competition is announced either in technical journals, or by 
letter of invitation to a selected group of architects. The announcement 
must contain the name and address of the sponsor, a description of the 
competition and who is eligible, the names of the judges, their represen- 

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tatives and assistants, the due date for the designs, and the Haison office. 
Supporting documents are made available for a limited period of time 
upon payment of a refundable deposit. 

Depending on the size of the project, from three to six months are 
allowed for preparation of the designs. During this period, the jury usually 
meets to estabhsh final criteria for judgment of design quality. Questions 
and comments about the competition may be submitted to the sponsor 
within the first third of the period. All written and oral questions are 
answered at a colloquium to which competitors are invited. Decisions 
made at the colloquium are binding on the subsequent competition. 

GRW 77 requires that the independent jury be composed of both 
technically qualified professionals and persons familiar with the condi- 
tions of the project. At least two, and preferably half, of the judges should 
be practicing architects. The judges are aided in their deliberations by 
assistants or '^prehminary reviewers" (Vorprufer), who are often those 
employees of the sponsor who prepared the competition. Judges, assis- 
tants, and private consultants invited to advise the jury are reimbursed for 
their time and expense. 

If the competition is to be anonymous, each design is given a number 
when it is received by the sponsor. Handwriting is permitted, however, 
and no common symbols for architectural drawings have been adopted, so 
that it appears questionable whether true anonymity can be assured in 
local or regional competitions, where judges and competitors are drawn 
from the same pool of architects. Still, the preservation of anonymity is 
not a problem under discussion in Germany at this time. 

The assistants review the designs and make a report to the jury, which 
usually meets within six to eight weeks after the designs have been received. 
The prizes are usually announced about three months after submission. 

A first prize should be awarded. Further prizes and their amounts are 
regulated by GRW 77 according to the estimated total cost of the project, 
but may be altered by the jury. 

GRW 77 goes into considerable detail concerning the preservation of 
the independence of the jury and what may be considered in the selection 
of winning designs. For example, it states: The judgment may not consider 
partial solutions that were not required. Only the conditions and re- 
quirements imposed by the sponsor may be considered. The designs must 
be evaluated as they stand, and not as if they were slightly improved. The 
prizes are to be awarded to the best overall solution. 

The jury may also recommend that certain designs, although not receiv- 
ing a prize, be bought by the sponsor; normally about 15-20 percent of the 
prize money is reserved for this purpose. Prizes are based on the architec- 
tural fee table, again similar to fee systems recommended by American bar 
associations, and range from DM 9,400 to DM 200,000 (about $112,000). 

The sponsor must publicly announce the results of the competition, and 
generally displays the winning designs for a period of weeks. Final prep- 
arations for development of a site plan based on the sponsor's choice of 
design then gets underway. Construction may only begin after preparation 
of a valid site plan, with very few exceptions. 

EPA, Munich. 13 

Rights and Obligations 

The designs always remain the intellectual property of the author or authors, 
but the materials submitted for the winning designs become the property 
of the sponsor. The sponsor also has the right to amend the design but 
should, if the amendments are major, first consult with the author. Pre- 
requisite for the sponsor's use of the winning design is that the author be 
given further contracts relating to implementation. If the winning ar- 
chitect is not awarded a contract, the design may only be used by the spon- 
sor upon payment of an appropriate fee. The same applies to designs that 
are purchased by the sponsor. 

The state architectural societies try to enforce this principle that spon- 
sors of competitions are committed to employ the authors of prizewinning 
designs, by requiring this to be hsted as a condition of the competitions. 
Many practical factors still work against this; for example, political 
pressure to award the contract to a second-prize winner, a local architect, 
rather than the out-of-town first prize winner. (This is the exceptional 
case, but more than one "first" prize is sometimes awarded.) 

Disagreement Between Competitors and Sponsors 

In general, architectural competitions are considered a thorough success 
by architects and sponsors alike. Still, certain disharmonies among the 
partners can sometimes be discerned, particularly regarding the following 

Composition of the jury — some architects would like to see lawyers ex- 
cluded; the architectural societies sometimes must push to secure par- 
ticipation of at least two self-employed architects on the jury. 

The obligation to provide further contracts to the prizewinners. 

The relationship of prize money to the scope of design respon- 
sibility — the prizes may not be sufficiently large in relation to the 
estimated project cost. 

Standards of eligibility — the sponsors may want to open the competi- 
tion to non-architects, such as urban planners or geographers. 

Finally, the architectural societies would like to see the establishment of 
a mediation board for the resolution of conflicts concerning the conduct 
of a competition. The jury's selection of prize-winners may not be 
challenged in court. A mediation board would be a pre-judicial forum for 
the consideration of procedural complaints which now must be resolved 
either informally or in court. 

A Sample Architectural Competition 

The city of Reutlingen sought, in 1979, to build new buildings for the city 
Hbrary and the adult education center in the heart of downtown near the 
city hall, art center and pedestrian shopping areas. Two-thirds of the 
structure was to be reserved for the city library and one-third for the adult 
education center, but the two parts will be separated by the existing art 
center, a historic building that must maintain a certain spatial in- 
dependence. The state monument preservation office was also concerned 
that the existing buildings and streetscape not be altered. 

The judges included the venerable Munich professors Gerd Albers and 
Fred Angerer, the mayor of Reutlingen, and five specialists. Twelve 


designs were submitted, four prizes awarded ranging from DM 30,000 to 
DM 5,000, and two further groups of authors received special notice. The 
competitors primarily came from southern Germany. First prize was 
awarded to a group of architects from Karlsruhe, second prize (DM 20,000) 
to a group from from Reutlingen, third prize (DM 10,000) to a group from 
Stuttgart, and fourth prize to a group from Munich. 

The winning design was described by the jury as follows: The design in- 
corporates the existing urban situation by binding the areas north and 
south of the Spendhaus into compact, but measurably well-differentiated 
units. The total impression of the urban area as well as the row of tradi- 
tional houses and the outline of the Spendhaus are considered good. On 
the other hand, the spaces dividing the Spendhaus from the new buildings 
have the appearance of ravines, in that they are as long as the walls of the 

The divisions between the structures are well placed, but the facades 
rather too finely cut. The connections to the structures and the corners are 
thoroughly well done. 

The Spendhaus street retains its existing importance. The demolition of 
two buildings gives rise to larger spatial connections between open areas 
into which the cafe has been appropriately placed. 

By retaining the existing situation, access by pedestrians is achieved 
without difficulty. The loading zone for the library bus is in conformance 
with the situation. 


Both architects and sponsors appear to be very well satisfied with the in- 
stitution of architectural competitions as it has evolved during the past 28 
years and been codified in GRW 77. Many cities are turning to architec- 
tural competitions as a source of economical yet high-quality urban 
design. Architects appreciate the opportunity to compete for a variety of 
urban design projects, both for financial reward and intellectual challenge. 

'The practice of architectural design competitions in Europe derives from the nineteenth 
century — in 1882 the decision to build the Reichstag in Berlin according to the design of the 
second-^r'izQ winner caused a mild public uproar. 


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The Selection of the Design for the Munich Olympic Games, 1972 

The 1972 Munich Olympic Games were the subject of one of the biggest architectural com- 
petitions in Germany. The design of the unique "tent roof" (Zeltdach) won the competi- 
tion; it has since proved to be one of the architectural monuments of Germany, a lasting, 
beautiful expression of the technical capacities and imagination of modern urban design. 

The architectural competition was not part of the original planning for the Games, but 
grew out of public and official recognition of the inadequacies of the preliminary design 
prepared by the Munich Building Office, which had been approved by the German Na- 
tional Olympic Committee, the Federal Government, the State of Bavaria, and the City of 
Munich. The City's design foresaw construction of a stadium, a multiple-use gymnasium 
and a swimming hall, under which would be placed additional rooms, restaurants, and 
parking. Another parking lot would be located between the television tower and a hill. 
Facilities for the press and a university athletic center were lacking. Construction costs were 
estimated at DM 550 million. 

Public criticism began soon after the design was approved. Federal minister of Justice 
Hans-Jochen Vogel, who then was Lord Mayor of Munich, described the reasons for the 
organizers' change of heart: Fault was found with [the design's] primarily functional 
character and lack of a convincing underlying concept. Furthermore, the design was 
criticized for being too favorable to automobiles; the most beautiful area, at the base of the 
hill, was to be transformed into a sea of cars. ' 

The City of Munich then decided to conduct a national competition for the design of the 
Olympic area. According to Vogel, the arguments in favor of the competition were over- 
whelming: To my mind, it was decisive that a task of this magnitude required more inten- 
sive intellectual preparation than could be provided by a city building office in a few 
weeks — even with the best will in the world. Their proposal was functional, economical, 
clearly structured — but it was not a whole, not a work of artistic design, and not equivalent 
to the architectural achievements of previous centuries in Munich. And, that this was the 
opportunity of a century, or at least of a generation, was completely clear. ^ 

The competition opened on July 1, 1967. By the July 3 deadline, 101 designs had been 
submitted. More than 10,000 square meters in three exhibition halls were needed to display 
the designs. 

The 19-person jury included noted professors of architecture and urban design, and 
representatives of government, including Gerd Albers and Herbert Jensen, and Hans- 
Jochen Vogel. 

The jury met twice. At its first meeting, September 4-8, 23 projects were selected for fur- 
ther consideration. The tent roof design was included after lively debate about its technical 

The jury's second meeting on October 11-13 brought almost violent debate. At the end, 
the tent roof design was adopted almost unanimously, but the famous roof was specifically 
excepted from the stated grounds of the jury's decision. Doubts about the technical 
feasibility of the design led the jury to announce in its decision to award the first prize to 
Munich architects Gunter Behnisch and Partners, that substitution of a different roof 
would be permissable and not affect what were felt to be the substantive merits of the 

Since then, and despite costs that mounted to more than three times the original 
estimates of the Olympic Games organizers, the tent roof structures of the Olympic area 
have become one of the most important tourist sites in Munich, and a source of local iden- 
tity and pride. 

/ am certain, Vogel writes in his memoirs, that the tent roof will soon be counted as one 
of the major expressions of the human spirit, and recognized as an architectural structure 
of genius. ^ 

'Hans-Jochen Vogel, Die Amtskette, Meine 12 Munchner Jahre, (Munich: 1972) p. 119. 
Ubid., p. 119. 
'Ibid., p. 123. 

Munich Olympic Stadium, 1972. 17 





! ■ 






An architectural competition in 1875 produced the design for the Paris 
Opera, by Charles Gamier, then a complete unknown. Gradually, over 
the century that followed, design competitions — once a grand tradition in 
France — declined, with, in the opinion of many, a corresponding decHne 
in the quality and originality of effort. 

Even now, 7 percent of France's 13,000 architects are in charge of 90 
percent of the nation's building design — a statistic which may help to ex- 
plain why young architects are so much in favor of competitions, which 
they see as their only route to recognition — and commissions. 

One of the reasons for this exclusivity may be the "approval" procedure 
adhered to by many French ministries, as well as local and regional 
authorities. Through this procedure, an architect can be retained only if he 
has been * 'approved," i.e., recognized for his previous work. Once so ap- 
proved, he enjoys an almost-exclusive position, even though he may only 
put his signature to work done by his employees. 

In 1973, a move to reform this procedure was set afoot by a coahtion of 
the pubHc, in their awakening concern for environmental quality, the ar- 
chitects themselves, and some innovative designers within the French 
Ministry of the Environment, the agency responsible for architecture in 

The new law made competition among architects obligatory "whenever 
possible" (although only for public-sector projects; the private sector was 
not involved). 

It should be noted that public buildings and facilities make up around 
10 percent of all construction in France, except for housing. Subsidized 
(public) housing accounts for perhaps another 8 percent, for a total of 18 
percent of construction that is theoretically, although not actually, subject 
to the legal competition requirement. 

In fact, in 1977, approximately 5 percent of all construction in France 
was subject to design competitions. The percentage increased in 1978 and 
1979, and was expected to increase further in 1980 (but more in monetary 
value of construction than in numbers of projects). 

The "whenever possible" clause has been deleted from recent (1980) 
legislation, making the competition route mandatory for large-scale public 
projects. (Projects with professional fees of less than F 250,000, or ap- 

Paris: Les Halles International Competition, one of five projects among over 600 
participants. Franco Purini, Arch. 19 

Pare du Sausset, Paris. 

proximately $55,000, are exempt from the competition-requirement; ar- 
chitect's fees generally run between 5 and 10 percent of construction cost.) 

Other regulations regarding design competitions are not very specific; 
for example, the stipulation concerning juries states that if a jury is set up, 
architects have to be present, possibly with other professionals, without 
representing the majority of members of the jury..,. Thus sponsors are 
able to use a jury or not, and if they do, to choose the type of members 
they want as long as there are architects among them. 

Competitions may be single- or two-staged, open, restricted, or invita- 
tional. In addition to the usual "ideas" and "project" competition types, 
three other types occur, depending on the project at hand: 
Competition on the basis of a single design document. This procedure falls 
somewhere between the "ideas" and "project" competition, but unUke 
the "ideas" competition, does require a site analysis. It is suitable for 
small- to medium-sized projects. 

Contract competitions. In this rather rare form, all of the survivors of a 
preliminary selection process are issued full contracts for preparation of a 
complete design, ready for implementation. The winner is then selected to 
implement the project, but all competitors are paid fees in accordance 
with their contracts. Because of the expense involved, the method is 
reserved for very complex and important projects. 
Competitions involving architects and builders. This form requires 
cooperation between architects and builders to achieve a balance between 
technical and architectural expertise. It was created in order to put an end 
to the "model" policy which resulted in the creation of "cookie-cutter" 
schools, hospitals, post offices, etc., throughout France. 

Compensation and Honoraria 

In general, competitors receive at least partial compensation under certain 
conditions. For ideas and single-document competitions, the sponsor may 
announce that the number of competitors will be limited, or that only a 
certain number will receive prizes, no higher than the studies are worth at 
standard fees. For all other competitions, final-stage competitors must be 
paid an honorarium related to the size of the project, the amount of work 
involved and the expenses they incur. The entrant responsible for the top 
design does not receive an honorarium, but is compensated by being re- 
tained for the project. 

The Reality 

Though various types of competitions exist, competitors seem to treat all 
of them as project competitions, and to furnish a full range of documents, 
details, and sometimes elaborate models — even though these have not 
been asked for. For that reason, architects consider that even the smallest 
competition involves an expenditure of some F50,000, around $10,000— a 
high figure for small offices. 

Although young architects believe that competitions do help them get 
work, more experienced architects and small agencies say they wind up 
participating in competitions "all the time" and thus lose money. Medium- 
sized competitions attract between 50 and 120 competitors, and since only 
one can win, participation becomes a costly business. 

Adaptive re-use of an old brick warehouse along Canal de I'Ourcq 21 

Some architects also complain that they cannot discuss the program 
with the sponsor or future users — and then, after selection, they are asked 
to change this or that aspect of the design. Sometimes they are even asked 
to work with the **agreed" architect of the sponsor, indicating that the 
competition was a mere smoke-screen. 

Improvement may result from rules being developed by the State Com- 
mission for the QuaHty of Public Buildings, governing the organization of 
competitions and the development of programs. After a few years of 
testing and experimentation, it is expected that these rules will become 
compulsory for all pubHc buildings and facilities. 

PAN — An Innovative Approach 

The year 1972 saw the inauguration of an ideas competition known as the 
New Architectural Program, or PAN, an acronym for the phrase in French. 
Sponsored by the National Department of Construction, PAN was a 
housing competition created in reaction to the 'lowers and bars" — the 
anonymous and enormous blocks of housing scattered throughout France, 
all ahke or nearly so, and without any regard for their environments. 

At the beginning, PAN was a technology-oriented ideas competition, 
without reference to location in a particular city or area. Significantly, 
professionals began to drop out of the competitions, leaving students and 
newly graduated architects as virtually the only participants. Eventually 
PAN began to stress quality more than innovation, and to center on pro- 
jects designed for specific cities and even for specific sites where change 
appears to be imminent. 

Another important change is the effort by PAN organizers to *'seir' the 
successful competitors — although not necessarily competition-winning 
projects — to local authorities and developers. Sponsors are using a number 
of strategies to increase the visibility of the program and its winners, in- 
cluding mailings of brochures containing winning and runner-up designs, 
and presentations to groups of major developers. 

That the effort is bearing fruit can be judged by the fact that by 1978, 30 
of the 69 winners of the first nine national and two regional competitions 
had completed construction of a project, or were in the process of doing so. 

Competition winners and honorable mentions receive monetary awards; 
however, these vary, and are not announced in advance. For example, 
winners in 1978 received F50,0(X) each and honorable mentions F30,000 
each; by 1980, those figures went up to 65,000 and 40,000 respectively. 

1980 also saw the inauguration of a *'super-PAN," open to young ar- 
chitects who have already participated successfully in French housing 
design competitions (including PAN), but have not gotten work as a 
result. Sixteen winning designs have been selected, and will be promoted 
as PAN winners. 

On the whole, PAN is considered a valuable contribution to applied ar- 
chitectural research, and a help to some young architects in obtaining their 
first assignments. Experience shows that PAN architects generally become 
high-quality professionals, some of whom have been responsible for 
outstanding designs such as the "Hants de Formes" and "Canal de 
rOurcq," competition projects described below. 

Low income housing project in Paris — the result of a PAN competition. 23 


Hauts de Formes 

This project, named for the Paris street in which it is located, consists of 
200 housing units in six separate buildings. It was the result of a small 
competition among three winning PAN teams. Competitors received a 
very brief (one-page) program summary and information on the site, soils, 
etc., and were required to furnish a cost-objective along with their designs, 
which they had only two months to prepare. 

The winning solution consists of six separate white buildings, ranging 
from five to 12 stories, around a small public square. There are almost 100 
separate apartment designs, all very carefully oriented to the sun to insure 
the occupants' comfort. The project is considered a success, both by the 
developer and by architects from all over the world who come to see and 
evaluate it. 

Canal de I'Ourcq 

The project consisted of the rehabilitation of an old (late 18th century) but 
solid brick warehouse on a Paris canal into low-cost housing units. The 
developer (the same firm that developed Hauts de Formes) decided on 
rehabilitation because demolition would have been extremely costly. Four 
teams were invited to compete. The winning design includes 76 apartments 
ranging from one to four rooms, with six studios for sculptors located on 
the ground floor. Solar panels on the roof provide 70 percent of the hot 
water required. The original facades were preserved and refinished, and all 
metalwork was painted. 

The major surprise of the project is the ambience provided by interior 
open spaces and small gardens that surround a quiet inner pedestrian 
street, flooded with sunlight. Open corridors give access from the open 
spaces to the apartments on both sides. 

Another noteworthy fact is the extremely rapid progress of the project: 
two and a half years from inception of the competition to occupancy of 
the building. 

The National Director of Construction commented recently that such 
conversions are only possible when walls, floors and roof, as well as the 
structure, of an old building are in good condition; otherwise it is difficult 
to guarantee construction costs and obtain financing commitments. (Pro- 
jects that are PAN winners have the advantage of being eligible for finan- 
cial assistance from the Department of Construction.) 

Pare Sausset 

This ideas competition provides a good model of what a competition 
should be; the regulations were clear and a good program was developed 
and given to competitors. 

The project was the design of a 200-hectare forest park to be located be- 
tween Paris and Roissy Airport. The site is currently meadowland, but the 
area has been increasingly encroached upon by industry and urban sprawl, 
and the objective of the proposed park is to provide green space and thus 
improve the quality of the lives of area residents. 

The program was the result of two years of study by government officials, 


landscape and other design professionals, biologists, environmentalists, 
and representatives of local associations. 

Regulations required that the teams be headed by a landscape architect. 
Entries were judged anonymously — a rare practice in France, but one that 
makes for greater impartiality. 

Three winners were chosen. The first-prize winner presented a design in 
the style of 17th-century forests. The project will be carried out under the 
direction of the coordinating agency, possibly with the participation of the 
third-prize winner. Site work is scheduled to start during the 1981-1982 
winter, although of course real results will not be visible for a decade (and 
the forest will not be "complete" for perhaps a century). 

Les Halles 

The planning of some 20 acres in the heart of Paris, where the famed and 
beautiful paviHons of the central market (Les Halles) formerly stood, 
started some 20 years ago and still is not finished. Apart from the luxury 
shopping-center (the Forum), the Pompidou/Beaubourg Center (slightly 
away from the site), and underground, the huge ChateletCLes Halles 
metro and express train station, hardly anything has been built. What is 
worse, no unifying approach has been attempted for this historic 
area — indeed, the available space has been divided into areas (without any 
citizen participation, real competition, or democratic municipal approval) 
and "given" to various architects, with the inevitable result that the pro- 
posed plans, all rather mediocre, lack any unity. 

In 1979, the independent "Syndicat de T Architecture," consisting of 
progressive young architects, launched an international competition to 
prove that a unified approach was possible and could result in a coherent 
plan, perfectly integrated in its historic environment. 

This perfectly regular competition was organized without any prizes or 
help from any official agency or institution. For this reason, its over- 
whelming success in terms of interest (1,900 inquiries and finally 600 en- 
tries) is even more significant. 

In at least one of its objectives, to generate worldwide interest, it was 
certainly successful: the worldwide discussion it created will probably last 
for years to come. A third of the competitors were French, and the re- 
mainder came from all over the world, and included famous names, such 
as Moore, Eiseman, Venturi, Tigerman, Mazzucconi, Pesce, Pei and 
many more. 

Its other objective, that of influencing the official plans, was not as suc- 
cessful. Although its organizers had invited one official of each party 
represented in the municipality to serve on the jury, none accepted. In that 
sense, the competition was a failure and a chance to give Paris the ar- 
chitecture it deserves was lost. 

However, the exhibition, organized in early 1980 with the help of the 
magazine, "Architecture d'Aujourd'hui," attracted more than 50,000 
visitors and thus made this competition better-known to the general public 
than many "official" competitions. The exhibition will be shown in 
Marseille, London, Florence, Berhn, Vienna, Amsterdam, and probably 
in the U.S. 


k >: 





r ''^ ^ 







Visitors to Stockholm, the Swedish capital, are often struck by the im- 
pressive City Hall, a building of exceptional architectural beauty 
dramatically situated on the banks of Lake Malaren. However, it is seldom 
realized that Stockholm's foremost landmark was the subject of an archi- 
tectural competition which took place at the beginning of the century. 
Many of that period's foremost architects participated, and the winner 
was one of Sweden's most talented names in this field: Ragnar Ostberg. 
The City Hall's bold contours derive from Ostberg' s original design which 
was submitted to the competition authorities. 

In fact, there is a tradition in Sweden that important official buildings 
are subject to architectural competitions, and architects (whose participa- 
tion often involves a deep personal engagement and large sacrifices) have 
never questioned their value as an instrument of achievement for high ar- 
chitectural standards. 

The number of architectural competitions has varied through the years, 
due partly to economic trends in the construction industry and partly to 
other, more general developments, such as the active role of poHticians in 
the processing of architectural and construction matters, and changes in 
the overall attitude toward experts. 

The public sector has always dominated architectural competitions in 
Sweden, the private sector usually preferring to operate without recourse 
to competitions. 

The National Association of Swedish Architects' participation in matters 
relating to architectural competitions is not always appreciated, and is 
occasionally regarded as an improper interference in matters that do not 
concern it. 

In 1973, the Association's competitions regulations were revised. Shortly 
afterwards they were approved by other professional bodies, such as those 
representing construction engineers, landscape architects and interior 
designers. In addition, the regulations have been approved by several 
organizations representing the construction industry employers. 

As far as arrangers of competitions are concerned, the new regulations 
contain one very important change: the composition of juries. Now, juries 
need only two experts. Competition participants may be Swedish citizens 
or aliens holding a Swedish work permit. (There is no requirement concern- 
Stockholm: Stadshuset. The Town Hall 27 

ing architectural competence, since in fact experience proves that only 
competent, experienced architects win competitions.) 

Unfortunately, the new regulations did not at first bring about an ex- 
pansion of the Association's competition activities. In fact, many building 
contractors perferred to administer architectural competitions wholly on 
their own, without the assistance of the Association. As a result, architects 
often complained about poor assessments and unclear rules. The outcome 
of these independent competitions was not satisfactory, and the general 
level was far below what could have been achieved had they been carried 
out in accordance with the Association's regulations. 

The situation was discussed by the Association's members and it was 
decided to provide better information to potential competition arrangers. 
Consequently, a handbook on architectural competitions was prepared 
and pubHshed in 1978. In addition, personal contact between the Associa- 
tion's Competitions Committee and the competition arrangers was inten- 
sified. Thereafter, there was an increase in the Association's competitions 
activity. The upward trend has continued to the present time. The 
Association has managed to create a better understanding among competi- 
tion arrangers for the economic contributions which competing architects 
must make and consequently brought about a more realistic fee system. 

How many construction projects are preceded by architectural competi- 
tions? The Association keeps statistics of competitions carried out with its 
participation, and the type of projects the competitions relate to (see 
table). However, it has no statistics on how many comparable projects are 
carried out without the help of competitions. It also lacks details of com- 
petitions carried out independently by building contractors. However, it is 
likely that competitions are not normally used in new construction. Often 
it is political pressure which creates a demand for new ideas and higher 
quality, which in turn leads to competitions. And frequently, municipal 
officers and civil servants pave the way for architectural competitions by 
calling for improved environmental conditions. 

Since architectural competitions in Sweden mainly concern public 
buildings, it is of course politicians and their staffs who decide if and when 
an architectural competition will form part of the planning process. Thus, 
when the question of costs arises, the Association's Competitions Com- 
mittee naturally turns to senior politicians and municipal officers in the 
district concerned. 

A competition costs about two to three times the normal sketch fee for a 
project; therefore, competitions increase the initial cost of the "planning 
stage." This does not, however, mean that the "overall cost" of a project 
increases. On the contrary, it is often the case that more intensive efforts 
at the design stage lead to higher quality at lower cost. 

Another method of calculating the cost of a competition is to express it 
as a percentage of building costs. At present, the Association regards one 
percent as a reasonable figure for competition costs, with prize money 
usually accounting for half of the competition costs. 

Prize-winning entries in architectural competitions are documented in 
an Association publication called Arkitekttavlingar, "Architectural Com- 
petitions." This publication is financed by a levy of 10 percent of the prize 
money which the Association receives in return for its participation. 


Number of architectural competitions 
sponsored by the Association during 1977-79 













































A: Open architectural competition. 

I: Competition open only to invited participants, usually two to 
six selected architects/architectural firms. 

1 Most often completed housing areas. 

2 Hotel with conference facilities, or conference center. 

3 Hospitals, pensioners' homes, etc. 

4 Unusual projects such as towers, etc. 

5 Mainly concerning proposals for plans for inner city areas. 



Some of the greatest buildings of the Victorian era in Britain were the 
result of architectural competitions — world famous landmarks like the 
mighty Law Courts in London's Strand, the Victoria and Albert Museum, 
and even Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square, which has provided a 
landmark for tourists and a home for the capital's pigeons ever since. 

In those days, there were well over 100 competitions a year nationally, 
and many more locally. Over the last century or more, the level of com- 
petitions has varied considerably, with a burst after World War II, but a 
slump in recent years, due partly to shortage of funds in national and local 

Local government reorganization in the early 1970s did Httle to en- 
courage public bodies to spread their wings and seek innovation and ar- 
chitectural drama through the medium of competitions. Perhaps the 
authorities had other more pressing problems. 

However, it is certain that attitudes towards design competition will 
change radically as the result of a major poHcy speech in Newcastle in July 
1980, by Michael Heseltine, Secretary of State for the Environment. He 
expressed concern that fewer competitions are at present held in this coun- 
try than in other Western European nations, and said categorically, / want 
to help change that. I shall promote more competitions. 

As a start, the national Property Services Agency, the body responsible 
for government buildings and property, is to put out to competition three 
projects in its program: new accommodation for the Naval Gunnery Col- 
lege Establishment at HMS Cambridge in Devonport, estimated to cost 
about tl million; a new library for the Royal Military College of Science 
at Shrivenham, estimated cost t2 million, and houses for officers at a 
prison in Norfolk, estimated costi.1 milUon. 

The Role of Public Authorities 

There is at present no legislation or recommendation to authorities to use 
competitions in Britain, but Mr. Heseltine' s policy speech is being seen as 
a fairly firm pointer from the government as to the way public authorities 
should be looking. 

The main problem today is that local councils are expected by their 
communities to achieve the best financial deal. So in major development 

The Skylon, winning design of a "vertical feature" for the 

Festival of Britain in 1951. 31 

areas — a new shopping center, for example — they tend to enter the arena 
of bonanza bids, whereby they accept the lowest bid from a developer, 
and do not take responsibility for the resulting scheme. 

Some authorities have had their fingers burned over competitions where 
they have ended up with schemes they did not hke very much, because the 
judges of a competition have been mainly architects, and even though the 
authorities might have had their own representatives on the jury, they 
have bowed down to the views of the professionals. 

From the developer's point of view, it is a wholly competitive market 
and understandably, if an authority were to question his scheme and its 
contents at a later date, he would answer that environmental considera- 
tions had not been requested, nor had they been accounted for in his 
bid — and that in any case they would have cost more money! 

Funding for competitions comes from the client, another obvious 
reason authorities have tended to use their own *'in-house" architectural 
departments. It is generally accepted that competition costs represent a low 
investment of between 0.5 percent and 2 percent of the total project value. 

The Role of the RIBA and Other Professional Associations 

The role of the Royal Institute of British Architects in competitions is 
paramount. An architect, for instance, is not allowed to enter a competi- 
tion which does not follow the RIBA's own document, "Regulations for 
the Promotion and Conduct of Competitions." While it is mandatory that 
all architects be registered with the Architects Registration Council of 
Great Britain, virtually all are also members of the RIBA. Thus, the In- 
stitute's influence is extremely strong in terms of fees and competitive work. 

At the international level, the RIBA accepts the jurisdiction of the Inter- 
national Union of Architects — the UIA — which has drawn up regulations 
for the organization of competitions among architects from different 
countries. This means that nearly all competitive work within the U.K. is 
controlled by the RIBA, either directly or through the UIA, and any 
member who does work on a speculative basis, or enters a competition 
which is not approved, could be in breach of the Code of Professional 

Another role of the Institute is to try to communicate to clients, whether 
local authorities or private-sector industry and commerce, the very real 
benefits of competitions. It is pointed out that in all other areas of big 
capital investment, people seek quotes and tenders and advice from 
various consultants prior to choosing their ultimate goal. The same should 
logically be the case in new building work. 

The following advice is now being given by the RIBA's competitions 
working group: Architectural competitions are in the public interest. They 
provide a means by which architects can give their planning and design 
skills in a quest to find the best solution to a given design problem. By per- 
mitting this exception to the rule against speculative work for no fee, the 
RIBA demonstrates it responsibilities to society and the environment, and 
its commitment to good architecture. 

A great number of building promoters are faced with the task of select- 
ing an architect without having adequate knowledge or experience with 
which to make this decision. The great advantage of an architectural com- 

The Pimlico housing scheme, first major post-war design competition for a large- 
scale housing development in London. Designed by Powell and Moya 33 

RIBA Architecture Awards 1980. 

petition is that the decision will be taken after judging a number of solu- 
tions to the particular problem posed. It need take no longer overall if 
selection of the architect and design is by competition rather than by any 
other method of appointment. 

Architectural competitions are the only method of selecting an architect 
purely on the demonstration of his skill in solving the particular need of 
the client. 

Choice: Competitions give the promoter personal choice, helped by 
whatever professional advice is required, of the best solution from among 
a number of designs. 

Benefits: In architectural competitions, the designer is selected on func- 
tional and artistic merits, and also with regard to his compliance with the 
budget and the running and maintenance costs. 

Confidence: Architectural competitions give a promoter the confidence 
of knowing that he will find the optimum solution to a building need 
because the range of alternative proposals allow the final decision to be 
made by comparison. 

Economy: Competitions are an excellent method for promoters to find 
the best solution in terms of value for money based on the assessment of 
experienced professionals and experts. 

How Are Competitions Organized? 

The general principles are that all competitors enter on an equal basis, that 
anonymity is observed throughout, and that assessment is made solely on 
merit. Hence, up-and-coming architects have an equal chance of success 
against nationally- or internationally-known figures. Competition is thus a 
way in which younger men can make a name for themselves. 

The conditions of the competition — which include the rules by which 
the contest is to be run, brief background information, maps and plans, 
and instructions for the submission of designs — are issued to all com- 
petitors, who are then given a set time limit in which to study them and 
clear up queries. 

A document based on the questions then goes to all competitors, who then 
have a further set period in which to work on the designs. These are then 
presented for study by the assessors who may include architects, company or 
local or public authority chairmen, housing or public works directors. 

The assessors make their award and report to the promoter. It is only 
then that they open a sealed envelope containing the name of the winning 

In a "two-stage competition," the first stage is open to any architect 
who wishes to compete. Six or 10 of the most promising designs are selected, 
and the authors of these designs asked to develop them in more detail 
before the assessors make their final decision. In this case, the promoter 
informs the second-stage competitors, who are known to him, but remain 
as numbers to the assessors until the final decision is made. 

It is the job of the assessors to find the design which gives the best solu- 
tion within the terms of the brief. 

As well as "project" competitions, used when the promoter wants a 
design for a project he intends to build, there are a variety o{ purely "ideas 
competitions" which are intended to encourage alternative solutions. 


far as prizes are concerned, an ideas competition may offer equal prizes to 
more than one solution, rather than a single winning prize. 

Within the RIBA system there is one competition-type which is used 
when neither a project competition nor an ideas competition is appropriate. 
When a long-term plan is needed, or the promoter is not directly responsi- 
ble for implementing the design, an "ideas-leading-to-a-project" competi- 
tion is organized. In this case, it is understood that a winning architect will 
be appointed as consultant if any major part of his design is incorporated. 

Meanwhile, the RIBA is at present revising its system, so that competi- 
tions can become more flexible to meet the needs of a client. Whatever the 
time-scale, architects will be able to provide the best solutions possible. 
The real value of the proposals is that instead of looking at people's past 
work, the client can make a decision based on the response of experts to 
the designer's proposed solution to the project at hand. 

Current Project Examples 

Although the competition system is not used as much in Britain as 
elsewhere in Europe at present, it was fairly active until a decade ago. 

It was through a 1945 Westminster City Council competition which 
marked the birth of London's postwar rebuilding campaign that Philip 
Powell and Hidalgo Moya, then two just-quahfied students, made their 
name. These two unknowns won against hundreds of architects: the result 
was the Churchill Gardens housing development in Pimlico, the building 
of which extended from about 1947 right through to the mid-1960s, pro- 
viding nearly 2,000 flats in four phases. 

The same partnership was responsible, again through competition, for a 
more graphic design which became to focal point of the 1951 Festival of 
Britain on London's South Bank — the Festival's sculptured fantasy built 
of aluminum, steel and light-metal sheeting. The 290-foot-high cigar- 
shaped structure, lit from inside, was the Skylon, originally described in 
the competition brief simply as the "Vertical Feature." 

When it was dismantled in 1952, its 14,000 pounds of aluminum alloy 
and 25 tons of steel were sold to a scrap merchant. Tentative plans to 
transport it to the U.S. came to nothing. As recently as 1975, some parts 
were found in a scrapyard. But much of the metal has turned into souvenirs 
of what many believe was the most exciting result of any design competi- 
tion in the late 1940s. 

One fine example of the result of a fairly recent international competi- 
tion is the London Central Mosque. The Mosque serves the Muslim com- 
munity of London and provides a focus and inspiration to the half-million 
Muslims in Britain. The site, adjacent to Hanover Gate in Regent Park, 
was placed at the disposal of the community by the Crown Land Commis- 
sioners, and in 1969 an open international competition was held. Fifty-two 
designs from 17 countries were submitted and that by Sir Frederick Gibberd 
was awarded first prize. Work began on the site early in 1974 and was 
completed by mid- 1977. 

Minaret and dome of the mosque rise gracefully above the trees in the 
park, and the main body of the building is lower than the adjacent Nash 
terraces. The environmental problem was to resolve the desire of the pro- 
moters that the mosque should be a visual symbol for the Muslim com- 




munity, but should not conflict with the Nash terraces. 

The list of current British competition projects goes on. For example, 
the Crown Estate Commissioners sponsored a competition for the 
redevelopment of the Millbank Estates, located on the north bank of the 
Thames in London. Many of the houses are to be rehabilitated behind the 
existing 19th century facades. Others will be totally rebuilt. 

Also in London, H.H. Robertson (UK) Ltd. sponsored a competition 
last year to develop land, at present a car-park, adjacent to the National 
Gallery in Trafalgar Square. The brief stated that the development was to 
produce an environment which would convey the essential quality of life 
of Britain for visitors to the capital. The intention could manifest itself in 
the form of a building to house exhibition space, restaurants, bars, shops, 
travel agents, a historical museum, etc. Alternatively, the design could 
take the form of a landscape, sculpture, or an object in landscape. There 
were over 100 entrants in the competition. 

Recently, the Scottish Arts Council and the Inverness Architectural 
Association invited architects and students who were members of the 
Inverness Architectural Association to submit ideas for the enhancement 
of the amenity of the Ness Islands, in the River Ness within the town of 

Numerous local competitions are sponsored by builders and other 
material suppliers. In the East Midlands region of Britain, architects com- 
peted for prizes worth 1.1,500 to design a house for the 1980s, with the 
stipulation that it should be capable of satisfying the demands and expec- 
tations of a family during its period of growth from a young couple to a 
family of five. This competition fell into the category between a pure ideas 
competition (no commitment to build) and a project competition (firm 
commitment to build). But it committed the sponsors to engage the winner 
to carry out further studies of his design, or possible concepts, arising 
from any entry. 

In the port of Bristol, the City Council last year held a two-stage com- 
petition for the design of aL.3 miUion waterfront housing development in 
its Baltic Wharf area. It was a key part of a plan to bring life back to an 
inner-city area. The contest was restricted to architects living or working 
within the county of Avon, i.e., about a radius of 30 miles of the city. 
From first-stage entries, assessors chose eight finalists who were invited to 
proceed to the second, detailed stage. At the end of this second stage, the 
assessors selected three schemes to be recommended to the promoter, who 
undertook to appoint the authors of one of them as architects for the 
development. Prize money was allocated as follows: to the authors of the 
three schemes short-listed, i.3,000 each; to each of the five remaining 
competitors, L650. 

One * 'ideas" competition sponsored by a large supermarket chain, in 
cooperation with the journal Building Design, sought ideas for a specific 
British problem: car parking. Architects, artists, designers and students 
were asked: How do you make a car-park visually acceptable? How can it 
be knitted into the existing environment, especially in an urban setting? 
And how do you make a car-park work conveniently for customers? The 
contest spawned an encouraging 251 entries. 

While there are specific moves under way by the RIBA, now greatly en- 
London Central Mosque and Cultural Centre. 37 


^^4dfciM»^« ."^ftK^t^rrilB 

couraged by new government policy, other organizations continue to take 
the competitions road in a variety of other urban situations. 

London Transport, some of whose buildings and Underground stations 
are earmarked as buildings of specific architectural interest, has joined 
with the Arts Council to sponsor a competition to be the centerpiece of a 
station update program on its Central Line. In the spring of 1980, it 
sought artists to suggest the decorative treatment of ceilings over the 
escalators at Holborn station. The site covers about 1,250 square meters 
and will be seen by more than 34 million passengers a year — more than ten 
times the number who visit the National Gallery! 

When the station modernization program is completed, it is intended 
that the escalator vaults become the focus of art patronage on the Central 
Line, and it is hoped that the program will serve as a model of patronage 
for other London Transport projects. 

The competition was a two-stage affair. Five first prizes of 1 1,000 were 
offered for the first '*ideas" stage, along with a number of smaller prizes. 
Winners will be invited to develop their ideas in more detail in the second 
stage, and a fee will be paid for the design adopted. 

Industrial Design Competition 

Competitions in the design field are promoted annually by the Design 
Council — Hke the Arts Council a government-sponsored body — which 
supplements its national exchequer grant by the sale of literature, design 
guides and books, and through the sale in a few of its own shops of items 
which have received its seal of approval. 

Each year the council invites entries from British manufacturers of pro- 
ducts in five categories. There are no cash prizes, but the annual awards 
are internationally recognized accolades, and the commercial benefits of 
winning an award can be considerable. Many companies report substantial 
sales increases after receiving an award — there were 33 in 1979 from over 
400 entries — and other develop important new export markets. The 
Design Council allows award medallions to be reproduced at exhibitions, 
on advertisements, in sales literature, and even on the product itself. 

The awards are part of the Design Council's effort to seek out and pro- 
mote the best of British design and manufacture, and are increasingly be- 
ing used as case studies for educational purposes to improve the training 
of young engineers. There are separate award schemes for engineering 
products; engineering components; medical equipment; the British motor 
industry; and durable and decorative consumer and contract goods. 

Companies on a growing mailing-list are annually sent easy-to-complete 
application forms, and through publicity in trade journals and elsewhere 
others are free to enter. The Council is even willing to help prepare entries. 

Street furniture, for example, park seats or bus shelters, would come in 
the last-named category above. The judging criteria are logical: all aspects 
of design are assessed. Products must achieve a satisfactory standard of 
performance and should conform to the standards of safety laid down by 
relevant authorities. 

In the absence of such standards, the manufacturer must show that the 
product is safe in all aspects of its use. Materials, finishes, assembhes and 
structures are examined, and care is taken to insure that maintenance and 

Financial Times Awards 1979. 39 

servicing requirements have been appropriately considered. 

A product must be ergonomically sound and must offer good value for 
money. The aesthetic quality of a product will be considered and the judg- 
ing panel will look for originality of concept and overall visual and tactile 
appeal. Similar criteria apply to other categories of award. 

Judges are named on the entry forms, and are asked to declare at their 
first meeting whether they have an interest in any items with which they 
have been personally concerned; and in some instances, companies will be 
asked to defer their entry for one year. 

Entrants are required to give a 300-word product appraisal and 
photographs and diagrams as appropriate. Judges are chosen from a wide 
field with interest in the subject — professional bodies, universities and so 
on — and seek reports from users of the entry and, where applicable, from 
specialist technical assessors or other independent authorities. 

A novel form of vandal-proof tip-up seating won an award last year. 
And in the motor industry section, in 1980, a new form of maintenance- 
free hard-to-damage road bollard was an award winner. Other winners in 
this section have included British Rail's 125mph High Speed Train, the cab 
for a new British Leyland truck, and vehicle safety devices like one which 
eliminates the risk of a small car under-running the trailer or a large truck. 

The Council allows three to four months for entries to be submitted. 
Results are announced in the early spring of the following year, usually to 
substantial publicity both nationally and in the locality in which the win- 
ning firms are situated. 

Green Space Competitions 

The role of parks and open spaces in an urban environment has been 
recognized in the form of an annual competition entitled "Britain in 
Bloom" for the last 16 years. The regional tourist boards of England, 
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combine with the umbrella British 
Tourist Authority to run the competition, aimed at encouraging local 
authorities to make the best of their parks. 

There are no cash awards, but winning cities and towns do gain con- 
siderable prestige from erecting signs at their boundaries to tell travelers 
that they are entering a winning area. 

Local authorities enter the contest through the regional board, which 
goes on to pick out the eight best entries. These go forward to national 
finals, judged by eminent horticulturalists and British Tourist Authority 
staff. Contest winners are chosen in four categories: cities, large towns, 
small towns and villages. 

There is no doubt that over the years the contest has raised enormously 
the standards of parks, particularly in industrial areas where environ- 
mental difficulties are obviously taken into account when they are com- 
pared with flower-bedecked holiday resorts on the sunny south coast. 
Judges are more interested in the overall use of resources at the disposal of 
local chief recreational officers, than in the use of expensive and exotic 

"Art into Landscape" is the catchy title used by the Arts Council of 
Great Britain, and the Scottish and Welsh Arts Councils, for the promotion 
of competitions to offer people from all walks of life the possibility of im- 


proving their surroundings and suggesting ways in which under-used 
pubHc spaces can be enhvened for the benefit of the community. 

The 1980 competition was the third of this kind. Prehminary work 
began in the first half of 1979, when a central panel representing the three 
Arts Councils, the Royal Institute of British Architects, and the Land- 
scape Institute, chose eight sites from scores offered by local councils and 
other bodies throughout the country. 

Through trade journals, press notices, and circulars to professional 
bodies, art colleges and so on, first-stage entries were invited by autumn of 
1979. All entries were exhibited at or near each site, and about a dozen en- 
tries from each site were chosen for further investigation. The first stage 
consisted of a three-page document describing ideas for development of 
the sites. The finalists then had the winter to expand their proposals to in- 
clude three-dimensional materials and, where appropriate, costs. These 
were exhibited at the Serpentine Gallery in London at which winners were 

Prizes for professional architects, landscape architects, engineers and 
students of these professions were a first prize of 4^550, a second prize of 
t275 and a third of LI 50. The prize money was provided by the Arts 
Council and by a number of sponsors which, in 1980, included a building 
society and some local companies with businesses in the chosen areas. 
Prizes in the non-professional classes were lower. 

The Arts Councils, with the site owners, hope to realize one of the final- 
stage schemes on each of the eight sites, and have committed joint funds 
for the purpose. Site owners, guided by the council, will negotiate contrac- 
tual terms with the authors of each commissioned scheme. 

Within weeks of the closing of the 1977 competition, progress was being 
made on some of the winning entries. An "eyesore" roundabout in the 
East Hertfordshire town of Ware was landscaped. Now its plants and trees 
are maturing well, and provide an apt example of the motto of the 1980 
contest — "Paint the Town Green." 

In Middlesborough, northeast England, a dinosaur playground has 
been developed alongside the River Tees close to the town center, as part 
of a riverside walkway and recreation area. 

The Greater London Council is moving onto a site in the derelict East 
End region of Rotherhithe to develop a garden with a theme of rope, 
knots and splicing, magnified to recall Gulliver's voyage from Rotherhithe 
to the land of the giants. It furnishes space for viewing, sitting, children's 
play and learning knots. 



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The near-universal acclaim for the design of a new Federal Parliament 
House for Canberra, chosen by competition, is thought by local architec- 
tural leaders to have given a shot in the arm to the use of design competi- 
tions for Australian construction projects. 

There is some irony in that outcome: the competition to design a 
suitable building for Canberra's Capital Hill was originally intended for 
Australian architects only. 

The city's chief construction authority, the National Capital Development 
Commission, which had all along wanted an international contest, got 
around that by determining that the competition was open to any architect 
registered in Australia, plus any who were eligible for registration and had 
appHed for it. 

In the event, the architectural nationalists were comforted by the fact 
that the nominated architect who put up the winning design was Australian- 
born Richard Thorp of Mitchell/Giurgola/Thorp, New York. 

International design competitions have suffered an ecHpse within 
AustraHa ever since the late Eero Saarinen persuaded his fellow-jurors, in 
the mid-1950s, to adopt the revolutionary design of Denmark's Joern Utzon 
for Sydney's Opera House. 

Utzon's design is justly famous. Unfortunately, it called for a whole 
new order of technology for the construction of the building's sail-like 
roofs. The result was substantial delays in completion of the Opera House 
and massive cost-overruns. 

In effect, the Parliament House, intended for completion by the 
bicentenary of European settlement, in 1988, is the first international com- 
petition conducted by Austrahan construction authorities since the Opera 
House competition. It has the virtue that, while strikingly innovative in 
aesthetic terms, it is well within the limits of present technology. 

Altogether 961 Australian, U.S., British and Canadian architects 
registered for the competition, 329 of whom submitted first-stage drawings. 

The Opera House experience had produced a sharp reaction on the part 
of the authorities. Registrants were given what was probably the most 
complete documentation, on the site and on requirements for first-stage 
designs, in the history of international architectural competitions. 

Some members of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects fear that 

The Sydney Harbour Bridge 43 

Sydney Opera House. 







if these precautions against the submission of inadequately documented 
designs should become the norm, many would-be competitors will be 
deterred from competing. Full compliance with the requirements, they 
say, could be excessively expensive for most architectural firms. 

That the Parhament House design did go to international competition is 
appropriate, since the layout of Canberra itself was the result of an inter- 
national competition, won by Chicagoan Walter Burley Griffen in 1913. 
So was the National War Memorial, a copper-domed edifice that will con- 
front the new Parhament House (as does now the ^'temporary" building 
first occupied in 1927 — from the far end of Canberra's central axis). 

The Mitchell/Giurgola/Thorp design deftly eludes revival of the bitter 
controversy that surrounded the decision to place Parhament on Capital 
Hill at all — for no better purpose than the self-aggrandizement of politi- 
cians, in the view of many. The design gets around the aesthetic problems 
of placing a massive structure on top of a hill by largely burying it within 
the hill. By sculpting crescents out of the hill itself on four sides, to pro- 
vide for a ceremonial forecourt and central hall on the northern side, with 
the House of Representatives and Senate respectively east and west and 
ministerial offices to the south, the building is designed to blend in with, 
rather than loom over, its environment. 

Public building designs in Australia, including those of the High Court 
and National Gallery in Canberra, have mainly been submitted to limited, 
Austalian competitions. Privately financed buildings, such as the new Out- 
back Heritage and Stockmen's Hall of Fame in Longreach, Queensland, 
have been similarly treated. 

Supporters of international competition hope that the foreshadowed 
Museum of Australia and Aviation Hall of Fame, both for Canberra, will 
be opened to international architects, but there is little sign that the private 
sector is taking a similar tack. 

With luck, the Parhament House wiU change all that. 

Parliament House Competition, Canberra, Australia. 

Mitchell/Giurgola/Thorpe, Architects. 45 

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Architectural design competitions have been responsible for a great many 
fine public buildings in Japan since the end of World War II. 

Among the earliest and perhaps best known of these was Kenzo Tange's 
Hiroshima Peace Memorial. In 1948, as Japan began to recover eco- 
nomically, the success of this work and others inspired government agen- 
cies, both local and national, to make extensive use of design competi- 
tions. In the 1950s, the reconstruction of Tokyo offered a particularly rich 
field of opportunity; among the projects to benefit from this approach 
were the Foreign Ministry building and the Tokyo City Hall (both 1952) 
and the National Diet Library (1953). In the following decade, some of the 
finest achievements in modern Japanese architecture resulted from com- 
petitions: Hiroyuki Iwamoto's National Theater (1962), Tange's Tokyo 
Cathedral (1964), and Shinichi Okada's Supreme Court Building (1968), 
to name only a few. 

In a sense, the history of the Supreme Court Building illustrates the prob- 
lems that narrow the scope of public competitions in Japan. The project 
was sponsored by the Ministry of Construction, and was the largest under- 
taking ever entrusted to it. The total prize money offered was ¥25 million 
(about $120,000 at current exchange rates). Where competitions had 
typically provided two or three months between the announcement and 
the deadline, contestants here were allowed a full eight months in which to 
present their entries. The period was necessary, because of the enormously 
detailed specifications that were called for — in effect, the competition was 
closed to all but the larger firms and studios that could afford the 
necessary investment in time and personnel. Even so, a total of 217 designs 
were submitted, making this the fifth largest competition in Japan since 
the war. 

Shinichi Okada, who submitted the winning design, worked for many 
years as an in-house architect with Kajima Kensetsu, the nation's largest 
construction company, before leaving to open his own studio. In Japan, 
relations with such a former employer remain very close; Okada' s ties with 
Kajima were construed by many as an ''edge" for him in the preparation 
of this entry. Kajima, moreover, was awarded the contract for the actual 
construction of the project — which further compHcated the issue of what 
powers and responsibiUties an architect is expected to have over the execu- 

Tsukuba Civic Center Project Competition 1979, Tsukuba 

Academic Newtown, Ibaragi Prefecture, Japan. Arata Isozaki, architect. 47 

tion of his design. As a result, there were problems in the building of the 
Supreme Court — including cost overruns some officials privately admit 
were as high as 50 percent — that dampened the government's enthusiasm 
for design competitions almost entirely in the 10 years since. 

If the national government no longer plays a major role, local and 
prefectural authorities continue to sponsor design competitions on a more 
modest scale. Japan is fortunate, in fact, in the number of fine buildings 
by distinguished architects that can be found, not only in the major urban 
centers, but in smaller cities and towns as well: civic centers and Hbraries, 
town halls and auditoriums, conference facilities and housing complexes. 
With few exceptions, however, the sponsors of these projects have not 
made use of open competitions to elicit designs, preferring to hold an in- 
vitational competition. Of the 39 major competitions reviewed by one pro- 
fessional journal since the war, 21 were closed, with an average of five 
designs submitted. In some cases, the sponsors have sought out architects 
of national prominence; in others, the field is restricted to local firms. 
Foreign architects are virtually never involved. 

Typically, the sponsor of a closed competition is the general affairs con- 
struction division of a local government, which draws up specifications for 
the project and determines what kinds of firms will be allowed to compete. 
The restrictions are meant, of course, to provide some assurance that the 
winner can be relied on to implement his design. Sponsors are usually con- 
cerned with the size of the firm, the number of similar projects it has to its 
credit already, how long it has been in business, etc. In practice, invitations 
also require a certain amount of political influence, which further restricts 
the field to bigger and better-estabHshed firms. 

General guidelines for sponsors, judges and contestants have been laid 
down by the Joint Committee on Architectural Design Competitions, 
representing the three major professional associations in the field. The 
committee will arbitrate when a dispute arises over the conduct of a competi- 
tion, but neither its regulations or its arbitration have any actual binding 

The regulations stipulate, for example, that a sponsor must choose at 
least three judges, the majority of whom should be practicing architects 
with substantial experience in the implementation of design projects. In 
the major competitions already cited, the juries have been composed 
almost exclusively of architects — particularly the elder statesmen in the 
field, a select few of whom serve as judges with some frequency: Hideo 
Kishida; Junzo Sakakura (a student of Le Corbusier, who designed the 
Japanese Pavilion at the Paris World's Fair in 1937); Kenji Imai; Yoshiro 
Taniguchi (who designed the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo), 
and others. A notable exception to this pattern was the invitational contest 
for the Miyazaki City Hall in 1961, where there were no architects on the 
jury at all. The committee strongly discouraged architects from entering 
this competition, but its recommendation was ignored: 10 designs were 
submitted, but no first prize was awarded — also specifically contrary to 
the committee's regulations. 

Selection of a jury is particularly important in Japanese competitions, 
because the committee's guidelines explicitly recognize the prevailing idea 
here, that an architect's license in itself is not necessarily proof of his 


qualifications. A jury may thus award first prize to a design by a young 
and untried contestant, but rule that he is not sufficiently experienced to 
execute the project, and require him to choose an acceptable collaborator. 
The committee attempts as far as possible to conform to the practices of 
the International Union of Architects, but admits that on issues of this 
kind the UIA regulations may not be entirely acceptable. 

The committee divides competition projects into five categories, and 
suggests the minimum percentages of total cost that should be allocated to 
the cost of design; this in turn provides a base figure for competition 
awards. The design costs of a $2 miUion library (Category III), for example, 
are pegged at 3.5 percent; if this project is planned as an open competi- 
tion, the prize money should be at least 15 percent of that figure ($70,000 x 
.15 = $10,500). In actual practice, contest awards vary enormously: The 
Hokkaido Centennial Memorial Tower was built in 1967 at a cost of some 
$2 million, with prize money of $20,000; the construction of the National 
Theater in Tokyo in 1963 cost over five times that figure, and the prize 
money was only $40,000 — less than half of one percent. There are still very 
few open competitions that a young and unknown architect can enter, and 
the cash incentives are seldom generous enough for a small studio to com- 
mit its time and resources. If the competition plays a significant part in the 
urban life of contemporary Japan, it does so at the local and prefectural 
level, where the innate conservatism of the sponsoring authorities can find 
expression in the invitational competition. 

The winning design was submitted by Takeo Sato and Associates and the 
building was completed in 16 months. Construction was supervised by the 
Municipal Construction Bureau, which made available to the architects 
their considerable data on the effects of cHmatic conditions on building 
materials. (Niigata is subject to salt winds and cold, wet winters.) The 
Niigata City Hall as Sato designed it is a 9-story main building that houses 
the administration, hnked by a corridor to the 3-story assembly building; 
there is an enclosed courtyard, with a reflecting pool and a sculpture of 
"The Family" by Takeo Yamanouchi. The work is well-reviewed in pro- 
fessional circles, and is considered a successful case of coordinated effort 
by the designers, contractors, technical consultants and the local govern- 
ment as a client. 


ii II ! 


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On Behalf of Competitions 

Design competitions may be used in architecture, landscape architecture, 
and city planning. As a method of selection they are as old as design itself, 
because the basic nature of design is competitive. In any building project 
there is, first of all, competition for the opportunity to build, or to land- 
scape or to plan. There is, further, competition for the money to build, 
competition in selecting building materials, and competition to occupy the 
spaces created. New buildings compete with old ones, both for their in- 
terior spaces and for their exterior sites. Competition is the essence of 

Design competitions are a method of procuring a basic design concept 
in response to a need for building while, simultaneously, choosing a 
designer. As such, design competitions take their place alongside all those 
other competitive elements that constitute the complex — and always com- 
petitive — world of building. The same holds for landscape design and 
urban design. 

Unfortunately, despite a venerable history, design competitions do not 
occupy a place of great respect in American practice. Mention competitions 
and, as quickly, someone will bring up the Sydney Opera House or the 
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial — both regarded too hastily as ex- 
amples of competition failures. 

As it happens, the Sydney Opera House, once built, became a much- 
loved edifice, as much the symbol of Sydney as the Eiffel Tower is of 
Paris. The faults in its creation were faults not so much of the competition 
system, but of errors in the conception and management of its entire 
building process. They would have probably occurred anyway, even 
without a competition. As for the FDR Memorial, two commissioned 
designs have been produced since the competition. Neither, alas, is any 
more likely to be approved and built than the competition winner. The 
fault, in both cases, was not competitions, but the larger context, or pro- 
cess, in which all building necessarily occurs. Design competitions must 
work within that context and its restraints. They can neither overcome nor 
correct them. 

But given a good building process — the whole process — and given a sound 
design competition procedure, great designs have been and can be created. 
Their roster includes the U.S. Capitol, the White House, and the Washington 

Berlin Free University— 1963 competition, first prize awarded to the design 

of Candilis, Josic, Woods and Schiedhelm. 51 

Monument. It includes the Chicago Tribune Tower, the Jefferson Memorial 
Arch in St. Louis, and many a state Capitol, among them those of 
Nebraska and Hawaii. The Enghsh Houses of Parliament, the Stockholm 
City Hall, the New York PubHc Library, New York's Central Park, the 
Campus of Washington University in St. Louis, the Birmingham- Jefferson 
Civic Center in Alabama, the Boston City Hall, the Toronto City Hall, the 
University Art Gallery in Berkeley, the Hiroshima Memorial to the victims 
of the atomic bomb, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, the Spanish 
Steps in Rome, the plan of Canberra in Austraha, the Monument to the 
Deported in Paris — and many, many more swell the roster. It would be as 
difficult to compile a complete list of great competition designs as it would 
to compile a list of great designs however procured. For the two are the 
result of the whole and testing real world of competition in which building 
must occur. 

One is tempted to interject that many a commissioned building has turned 
out badly or at least, disappointingly — and that the reasons are again 
reflective of difficulties inherent in the building process as a whole. Cases 
in point are the Rayburn House Office Building and the Kennedy Memorial 
Center for the Performing Arts, both in Washington; both plagued by 
severe cost overruns; both reflecting less than the height of American 
design capability. 

The difference between competitive and commissioned design is that in 
competitions, the conceptual design process is especially highlighted, for- 
mahzed into a highly rigorous procedure. The question that follows must 
be, why? What is gained, through what effort, and at what risks? 

In pursuing the questions that ensue, six considerations come quickly to 
mind. The first is one of '*cost." Do competitions cost more, and if they 
do, is the additional cost justified? The cost question is easily answered. 
Yes, competitions do cost more. But past and recent experience reveal that 
the additional cost is less than one-half percent of the entire project cost. 
It is, therefore, insignificant, since building project costs cannot be 
estimated with an accuracy of less than 10 to 20 percent, at best. Further- 
more, the additional cost may prove to be a wise investment if, as is Hkely, 
a superior design, in terms of both initial and operating costs, is produced. 

**Time" is also a consideration. A competition does add to the time re- 
quired to produce a building. A competition can be mounted and com- 
pleted in less than six months, readily in six to nine, and reliably in less 
than 12. The time factor is a matter of good project planning. Further- 
more, it can be a good investment — for instance, in gaining public accept- 
ance (a time factor given too little thought in public and, indeed, private 
work which is subject to public approval). Time is a factor, but it can be 
incorporated into an overall schedule, especially in public work. 

It should be added that a normal occurrence in many building projects is 
to have a long gestation period during which the idea of building is arrived at; 
a decision to build is finally made; and then all deliberate speed is attempted 
in getting a design. That sequence is a prelude to many a bad building 
design. There is time to hold a competition, if it is planned ahead. And 
that requires that the idea of holding competition generally be in the 
public mind. 

A third consideration is the role of the "client-designer" dialogue. 


Detractors of competitions claim that competitions prevent, even 
preclude, exchanges of views between the two parties. This is a serious 
distortion of facts. The competition process elevates the dialogue, enlarges 
it, and gives it constructive discipUne. It does this by requiring the sponsor 
to be articulate and complete in producing a statement of needs, a *' design 
program," with which all members of the sponsor group have to concur at 
the start. (That is an often-overlooked step in commissioned work.) The 
dialogue is enlarged through the participation of many conceptual design 
ideas — the product of the competition. These designs are examined with 
precision by an expert and independent jury of assessors — if the proper 
procedure is used. The traditional *'cHent-designer" dialogue is not 
precluded at all. On the contrary, when it does begin — after a design and 
designer are selected — it begins at a far higher and more ample level. 

A fourth consideration is that the ^'unknown" or * 'inexperienced 
designer" might be selected, a serious consideration to sponsors. But a 
long history of competition furnishes an answer. That is to use what the 
Scandinavians term '*the Big Brother system" — to couple the young or in- 
experienced designer with an experienced and able firm. The fact is, 
though, that a designer who had the ability to win a competition may like- 
ly have ability that simply has not been recognized. Furthermore, it is also 
a fact that large and experienced firms may not have the talent in their 
staffs that they appear to have; that they will hire staff when a new com- 
mission is obtained, and discharge it when the work is finished. The design 
professions are very much '* journeyman" professions, hiring and firing, 
and drawing on the same store of talent available to a sponsor by a dif- 
ferent and, possibly, more instructive route. It is also a given in the prac- 
tice of design consultants that a special team is assembled for each project, 
such as a team of designers, architectural technicians, engineers, or con- 
struction experts. A competition does not preclude that. On the contrary, 
it may do better what is done anyway. 

Sponsors must also address the question of assigning the choice of a 
design, and designer, to a selection or evaluation jury — a fifth considera- 
tion. Put another way, the question is one of transferring or even sur- 
rendering authority. But closer examination reveals that this is not quite 
the situation. A client or sponsor who goes to the trouble of mounting a 
competition, if he does it properly, estabUshes a whole and constructive 
discipHne to the entire conceptual building process. If a full and detailed 
program is established, if the competition is well managed, and if a first- 
quality jury is used, then the process is less one of transfer than it is one of 
enlargement. In fact, a good professional advisor and a good jury are 
added resources in design conception; they sort out, examine, consider, 
and finally recommend a design that best answers the sponsor's needs. 
And they can do this with far greater depth of experience as well as 
breadth of view than a sponsor-cHent. Admittedly, it is not an easy thing 
for a client to do. But clients should remember that a commissioned ar- 
chitect will press hard for his preferred solution, possibly to the neglect or 
detriment of other design possibilities, and in an atmosphere less searching 
and discipUned than that of a good competition. A good professional ad- 
visor and a good jury are a client's *' friends in court," a collective mind 
that seeks the best from an array of possibilities. Again, the question is less 


one of surrendering responsibilities than of enlarging a range of responsive 
design possibilities. 

A sixth consideration is the suitabiHty of competitions for very complex 
buildings. Can competitions be done for them? Experience furnishes the 
answer — yes. The recently completed competition for the Australian 
House of Parliament is a good example, as is the recent competition for 
the Intelsat Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Competitions are suitable 
for all types of buildings, at all levels of complexity. 

All of these considerations — arguments, if you will — have been extracted 
from a long and wide competition experience. Indeed, these considerations 
and the detailed particulars of proper competition procedure can be found 
in a careful examination of competition experience in the United States. 
Unfortunately, there have been too many poorly conceived and poorly 
managed competitions in the United States. That is the source of the 
criticism of them here. It is the source of the uneven regard which 
designers feel toward competitions. They, more than any other group, 
bear the heaviest burdens of competitions. Indeed, it should be said that 
designers pay the largest share of the cost of competitions, measured by 
the time and effort they contribute. 

To see a clearer picture we have the benefit of the experience and habits 
of others, those other countries that use (and sometimes misuse) competi- 
tions. But it is those who use them wisely, well, and often, who have the 
most to tell us, and to whom we should turn for lessons. We should look 
most closely at Finland, Denmark, Sweden, West Germany, Switzerland, 
Australia, Italy and Israel. And we should also look, at the same time, to 
Holland, England, Japan and a number of eastern and South American 
countries. In doing so, we would see the following lessons, applicable to 
our own circumstance. 

The first and outstanding lesson is to use competitions as a normal 
method — not once in a while; not reserved for the infrequent and spec- 
tacular design opportunities; but frequently and for all sorts of projects. 
The simple and irrefutable evidence is that those countries that use the 
competition method as a normal procedure have a very high general level 
of environmental design. Competitions are a part of a healthy and well- 
construed overall building process, as well as a healthy environmental 
management process. 

The competition method should be taken seriously — and competitions 
used honestly and conscientiously, for real projects. Competitions should 
not be used to promote projects that are of dubious likelihood. Nor 
should they be used to try to resolve other difficult problems in a building 
process, like public decision or the popularity of a project idea. Competi- 
tions can only serve if all of the complex and often difficult questions 
have been addressed. Competitions can show what can be done if all of the 
ingredients in the whole building process are put in order. It cannot put 
them in order. To use an analogy in sports, the Olympic competitions can 
show what the athletes of various countries can do as athletes, when they 
compete under fair and honored rules of procedure. The athletes' perfor- 
mances cannot correct the ills or faults in those procedures. It can only 
show quality results under right procedure. Competitions make quality 
possible as long as the procedures are correct and supportive. (Guidelines 


for rules and procedures to insure a successful competition are appended.) 

Another lesson concerns public enlightenment, and should be of special 
concern to public officials. A good system of competitions, particularly 
for "everyday design opportunities," will elevate the public's expectation 
of design in general. It will increase the pubhc's wiUingness to support 
public work, and foster confidence in the public domain. Citizens who are 
confident in their government are better citizens. In a democracy, how- 
ever, that confidence has to be earned, constantly. 

Competitions should be as open as possible to all designers. The more 
who can participate, the better. There is no more proven way for a society 
to find its talent than through fair, open, public competition. This is true 
in business, sports, the performing arts — in all areas of Ufe. In design, the 
competition system is the method for finding talent — and ideas. A winner 
or runner-up in a competition is a vital resource, to be identified as early as 
possible, and then to be used. The future of our society depends on it. 
Here, it might be pointed out that the nature or personality of designers is 
not that lends itself particularly well to the marketplace. Great designers 
are seldom great businessmen, even less great salesmen. Yet that skill is an 
essential in our present system. Design competitions are a far healthier and 
more telling alternative way of finding great talent. 

A successful competition requires a very good program. The ingredients 
of a good program are the competition rules, identification of a profes- 
sional advisor, identification of jurors, all needed design data, schedule, 
prizes, and announcement of results. 

Likewise, a successful competition requires good management overall, 
which in turn requires the attention of an expert professional advisor. The 
qualifications of a professional advisor are, first, that he or she be an ex- 
perienced and practicing professional designer and, second, that he or she 
be fully supportive of the competition method and familiar with it. Any 
good professional designer should be able to be a good professional advisor, 
since it requires knowing design, knowing how to work with clients, and 
knowing how and where to obtain technical data on the detailed aspects of 

Another necessity is a highly quaUfied jury of assessors. Jurors should 
be highly capable professionals in whom the client and the design profes- 
sions can place full confidence. Jurors should not be known for any par- 
ticular avenue of design preference or expression, as that may tend to 
misdirect the contending designers. Nor should they be people of domi- 
nant personalities, but rather people who can exchange and debate views 
in a constructive manner. CHents should remember that highly esteemed 
designers, as jurors, will attract the most conscientious competitors, and 
will inspire those competitors to do their best work. Professional jurors 
are essential. Only they can judge, simultaneously, the merits of a design 
as design, practicality, cHent needs, cost probabilities, the range of 
possibilities, the meaning of the language of design (i.e. drawing) and, 
thus, the total merit of a design. 

Although it has become a popular notion to deride professional jurors, 
professional expertise is essential in complex matters of judgment. It is not 
infallible, but it is far less fallible than nonprofessional judgment in mat- 
ters where profound knowledge is required. This brings up the matter of 


responsibility to the public being served. 

It is also a current notion that direct * 'public participation'' in the 
design process will assure the most responsible design results. One hopes 
that this will soon be recognized as a bad idea whose time has passed. 
Public interests, in a democracy, are served through responsible public of- 
ficials whose view must serve all interests, including those whose interests 
cannot be presented directly. Direct public participation can be helpful in 
review and suggestion of program, of scrutiny over procedure, but not in 
actual selection. It is simply a fallacy to expect it. Too much expertise is 
needed to evaluate a design as it is presented in illustration form. Direct 
public participation is a guise of responsibility, not its reality. Public par- 
ticipation should occur at all stages, but only in an advisory manner, as 
commentary and suggestion, not direction. 

The best competitions should be for real projects. Complex projects can 
be run in two stages, the first stage open to all. "Ideas" competitions 
should be avoided as self-serving and somewhat exploitative. The test of a 
design lies in its use. 

An obvious lesson is that the winning designer should be retained to 
realize the design. That is a normal rule of design competitions. It will at- 
tract the most conscientious designers and induce them to be fully attentive 
to all aspects of their concepts. 

All designs should be examined for compliance with the program prior 
to review by the jury. This examination will determine whether all designs 
satisfy all requirements from a technical standpoint. Severe breach of rules 
may disqualify a design. Such a procedure safeguards a sponsor's interests, 
saves the jury time, and exercises a useful discipline on competitions. 

Scrupulous honesty is an absolute necessity. An ancient rule of competi- 
tions is anonymity of competitors, for obvious reasons. That rule is the 
most prominent expression of the need for total honesty and integrity in 
the competition process, specifically in selection. 

There should be public presentation of the winning design. This should 
include publication of the jury's report, a public display and discussion, is- 
suance of formal results to competitors, public media information and, 
very useful, a publication on the competition. Records should be kept on 
the entire procedure, and given to a good archive, local if possible. 

Many years ago a then-young architect wrote the following: In the of- 
fice, days lagged on in gray monotony, from time to time relieved by the 
frequent competitions, sometimes resulting in a prize, though usually not, 
or by the week-ends which afforded opportunities for architectural studies 
in various parts of my own country. ..but I was still kept waiting for the 
great chance.... The "great chance" was the competition for the design of 
the Stockholm City Hall, held in 1902, one of Scandinavian architecture's 
landmarks. Its author was Ragnar Ostburg, who went on to receive the 
Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects— one of architec- 
ture's highest honors. 

Other talents, in architecture, landscape architecture and planning, are 
also waiting for their great chance. That chance will be given by a 
dedicated public official. But the greatest benefit will be to the public be- 
ing served. It will be a benefit, indeed, and one that graces a community 
for many generations. 



Competition Rules 

The following material is based on the circular of information supplied to the entrants in an 
actual competition, managed according to the suggestions contained in this book. While a 
certain amount of latitude is possible, within the specific regulations imposed by govern- 
mental and professional organizations in various countries, the following is intended to 
serve as a guide to the kind of information that should be offered and requested. 
Not all of the information need be included in the first announcement of the competi- 
tion, which generally solicits expressions of interest from qualified competitors. When 
those epxressions of interest are received, would-be competitors can be furnished more 
detailed information — for example, a detailed program statement, rather than the sum- 
mary statement included in the first announcement. 

/. Eligibility 

Rules should indicate any limitations on eligibility, such as nationality, residence in a par- 
ticular area or region, age, academic and/or professional credentials, as well as any specific 
exclusions — such as employment by the competition sponsors, or successful participation 
in previous competitions held by the same sponsor, for example. 

2. Registration 

This section should discuss all applicable registration requirements, including official 
registration forms and information required; registration fees if any; proofs of eligibility, if 
required, and registration deadline. Registrants should stipulate that they have read the 
regulations governing the competition, and agree to abide by them. 

3. Jury 

Jurors should be identified by name, professional discipline, and geogrphic location. 

4. Professional Advisor 

The professional advisor for the competition should likewise be identified by name, profes- 
sional discipline, and geographic location. If desired, any additional credentials, such as 
the profressional advisor's previous competition experience, may be included. 

5. Rules Regarding Communications 

This section concerns regulations dealing with communication between competitors and 
sponsors of the competition. Typically, it might specify that: 
— allcommunications and inquiries be submitted in writing; 
— that all such communications be addressed to the professional advisor; 
— that only communicators received by a specified date can be answered. 
(Since many competitors may have similar questions, it is helpful if the schedule allows 
time for a compilation of questions and answers to be prepared and sent to registerd com- 
petitors — this assures that all entrants have as much information as possible about the pro- 
posed projects, and that all "start even" in terms of judging criteria.) 

6. Schedule 

This item should specify all key competition dates, including: 

— due date for receipt of entry forms (and registration fees, if any); 

— date when complete program data will be mailed to all registered entrants; 

— date by which questions must be received; 

— deadline for receipt of entries; 

— date when jury will convene; and 

— date on which winners(s) will be announced. 

7. Anonymity 

This item spells out those requirements that guarantee the anonymity of entries, such as: 
— the requirement that all entries be unsigned, and without identifying marks, symbols, or 


— specific requirements dealing with the format for submittal — size and type of binders, 
concealed identification, etc. 

8. Publication Rights and Announcement of Results 

This section deals with the sponsor's right to publish, display, reproduce or otherwise 
publicize all design submissions. 

9. Ownership and Use of Designs 

This item should spell out the rights reserved by the competition sponsor to retain owner- 
ship and the right to use any and all winning designs. It should also deal with whether or 
not design submissions will be returned, and with sepcifics concerning the sponsor's right 
to incorporate features of a non-winning design into the project, and the rights of the non- 
winner to compensation in such a case. 

W. Rights of the Winning Designer(s) 
This section should make clear: 

— whether the sponsor is committed to retain the winning designer for the design of an ac- 
tual project (see "ideas" vs. "project" competitions in the introductory chapter); and also 
— how the winners will be compensated if an actual project does not result from the com- 

(Occasionally, a sponsor may honor a commitment to retain the winning designer or team, 
by may reject the winner's design, in whole or in part. If this is a possibility, the rules 
should spell out how winners will be compensated for the time and effort required to 
develop an alternative design.) 

This section should also cover the eventuality that the winning designer may lack the 
necessary technical ability and/or experience to realize the design. In such a case, the rules 
could specify that: 

— the winner be required to associate with other qualified design professionals, as deter- 
mined by the sponsor to be necessary to see the design through to satisfactory completion, 
or that 

— the sponsor has the right to retain such professional and technical expertise as necessary 
(with the winning competitor given an opportunity to review and comment on the develop- 
ment of his/her/their design). 

11. Disqualification 

Generally a simple statement that if any competitor breaks the rules of the competition, or 
fails to comply with its requirements, he or she will be disqualified and his or her submittal 
withdrawn from consideration. 


Photographic Credits 

Page 6-10: Atelier Sigrid Neubert. 

Page 12: Friedrich von Grundherr, FBA Munich. 

Page 16: Behnisch & Partner, Christian Kandzia. 

Page 18: Pare Sausset: A. Dumage. 

Page 20: Maison Haute. 

Page 22: F. Loiseau. 

Page 26: Swedish Information Service. 

Page 30: Millar & Harris. 

Page 32: Top: John Donat Photography. 

Page 36: David Atkins. 

Page 42: Below: Australian Information Service, Alex Ozolins. 

Page 44: Humphrey Sutton, N.Y. 


The Council for International Urban Liaison (CIUL) was formed in 1976 by the principal 
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For additional information contact: The Council for International Urban Liaison, 818 18th 
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in cooperation with 

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